Monthly Archives: April 2009

A Last Post From Swaziland

I seem to have grown lazy about writing for this blog. I wish I could say it was because we have been so busy doing missionary work that I just have not had time, but that would not be telling the truth. I just have not been diligent in writing.

Among the interesting things I have done over the last couple of weeks is going out with the missionaries and helping to harvest a field of corn. Actually what we did was to help shuck the ears. In Swaziland, they only get one ear of corn per stalk. They can not afford the hybrid corn that will produce two or more ears, nor can they afford the fertilizer that would improve their yield.

Speaking of fertilizer, we had dinner with President Mann and the Wilsons just a couple of nights ago. During the meal, President Mann told us about a Christmas when his family was living in Africa and he bought a truck load of fertilizer and they went out and delivered it to some poor farmers. What a great way to celebrate Christ’s birth.

Anyway back to here in Swaziland. After shucking the corn we went out and tracted. We just walked down the dirt road and in no time we had two contacts and their phone number. One was a home where it seems they hold church each Sunday. I think the man wanted the elders to come and preach but since it is at the same time as church in Ezulwini I am not sure they will do that.

Since over 80% of Swaziland is Christian, we can go almost anywhere with our badges on and people will comment about them. Just last Thursday I went to the car wash and while I was waiting struck up gospel conversations with three men. Two of them were mostly interested in proving that Saturday was the correct Sabbath day but one was really interested in learning more. I got so busy that I called the elders at their boarding and asked them to come over and help. They live about 300 yards from the car wash so they just walked over.

By the time we were done elder Murch had a good contact with the younger man and I had given a Book of Mormon, a pamphlet on the Restoration, and a Question of the Soul book mark to another man who turned out to an evangelistic preacher who is going to hold tent meetings for three weeks starting in early May. When I left he was looking up an answer to one of the questions of the soul in Alma.

Later as I was thinking about this experience I realized that almost everyone who comes to the car wash owns the car they bring, are male, and are Christians. These are some of the attributes we need our investigators to have so they can become leaders in the branches. Since it takes from 60 to 90 minutes to get your car washed it seems to me it would be a great place for missionaries to sit and make good contacts.

The Wilsons also had a good experience this week. They were out at one of the craft markets and got in a conversation with one of the shop keepers. Elder Wilson was negotiating prices and asked the woman if she was honest, if she went to church, and other such questions. When she said yes to all of them he said that they needed to teach her the Gospel. They ended up with an appointment to teach her and her family. All we need to do is open our mouths, be open to the spirit and the Lord will prepare the way for us to be successful.

On our Monday our P-Day experience was to drive through Milwane Reserve and then hike up to the top of Execution Point. The drive was great and we got to see lots of animals including a couple of good size herds of wildebeests. Along the way to the trail head to the Point we passed through a lot of guava bushes and a couple of the elders had a wonderful time picking and eating as many of the fruit as they wished.

The hike to the top of the Point was an up and down and up one. I found it was not too hard to get up to the top, but the walk back to the vehicles was hot and I had to take a lot of rest stops. I am afraid I am really out of condition but I made it. The view went on forever but there was just enough morning haze to keep the pictures from being spectacular. I wish we had time to do it once more but in the late afternoon when all of the haze seems to burn off. But at least I can say that I have been to the top of Execution Point and got safely back down.

Among all these great experiences we also had a sad one. As I have mentioned before there are three Great Danes on the property to help guard against intruders. We have come to love them, especially Jumbo who loved to be scratched and to play. Last week we found out that Jumbo had died. It turned out that someone hit him with something heavy right behind his head and broke his spinal cord. The vet tried to help but there was nothing he could do so we lost a good friend.

Well that is about all there will be from Swaziland. Tonight and tomorrow we will pack everything up and on Monday morning we will start off for Richards Bay and whatever the Lord has for us to do there. We will of course miss this beautiful valley and the high mountains and peaks around us. But I am sure we will soon come to love the area and the people in Richards Bay.



Later –

Hi Friends –

I do not have my weekly post ready because we spent all day yesterday enjoying the great conference sessions. We were able to see Saturday morning session live at 6 pm here and on Sunday we got to see a repeat of the Priesthood and Saturday afternoon sessions. Then again at 6 pm we were able to watch Sunday morning session live. We could have also seen the afternoon session but it would have started at 10 pm and we would not have gotten home until after midnight so we decided to watch it later when we get an internet connection.

We have started packing up some things as we get ready for moving to Richard’s Bay. We are excited about getting there and settling in for the next 14 months. I am sure it will be much different than what we have done here in Swaziland.

More and pictures later…



Elephants

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The picture on the left is the elephants we saw at Hlane who were in the bush and did not seem to want to come and say hello. The other two are from Mkhaya and they passed right in front of us. In fact our driver was being very careful because a couple of weeks before a group got between a mother and her child



Animals we met on our drives

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We probably saw more white rhinos than any animal other than antelope. The big guy on the right – a real Swazi stop sign – finally moved out of our way. The other two are of a group that was happily rolling around in a large mud hole. The one in the middle I call – “My mother is bigger than your mother.” In the other they are playing follow the leader.



Pictures –

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At Hlane we got to know a friendly ostrich and two nice young ladies at the reception desk. The one on the right had attended at the Manzini chapel when she lived there but did not seem to be a member. The far right picture is Mary with our friend Nathi in traditional dress that was bought for him by his mother who has since passed.



Another Great Week in Swaziland

Blog 30 March 2009

As our days in Swaziland are counting down, we are mixing missionary work with pleasure. The three major events of the week were the coming of MLS – Members and Leaders Services – to Swaziland, helping the elders in the district become more focused on missionary work, and spending a day at Mkhaya game preserve.

On Friday and Saturday Phillip Moatihodi, who is the area membership records manager, set up two computers and trained the branch presidents and clerks on how to use the MLS program to keep the records. This is going to be a great blessing for the district because for some reason the membership records have not been kept up for almost two years. But now the branches can clean up their records, make sure everyone has the right priesthood office, and that those who died 5 years ago are removed from the branch. Part of the training was to input the information we gathered on PH ordinations so we got to see some of the fruits of our labors.

On Monday I was thinking about President Mann’s desire to have the missionaries become consecrated to the work. I felt that I should teach my ‘Two Mite’ lesson at DDM on Wednesday and as part of it I designed a poster that said “I Will Diligently Strive to Make Today a Two Mite Day.” We had them printed on Tuesday and glued two 5 cent pieces on each poster.

On Wednesday at DDM I told them why it was important in the parable that the widow had two mites to donate and not just one. With one mite she only had the choice between giving it or nothing but with two mites she had three choices and she chose to give her all. I challenged the elders to strive to make each day a two mite day and to keep record of how many two mite days they had and we would report on next Wednesday. I will not ask each missionary to report but I will ask them to turn in an anonymous slip. It goes back to the one we had each student of our intensive English class turn in each morning about how well they did speaking only English.

Later in the week Elder Wilson mentioned that one of the missionaries told him that DDM was really good because of the lesson and on Sunday another elder mentioned that it was helping his companionship because they looked at the poster each morning and then talked about their day when they got home. Hopefully it will help the work here in Swaziland and help the missionaries become more consecrated for the work.

Right after DDM we left to go to Mkhaya Game Park to spend a day there. President Mann had approved our taking the extra P-Day because he wants the couples to see the country. Mhkaya is a private preserve where they have been working to build up the population of some of the species that were either completely wiped out in Swaziland or were at dangerous levels. They have had great success in re-introducing species and they have helped bring back the population of white rhinos from near extinction.

We spent 24 hours at the park. We were able to go on three 2 hour guided drives and a couple of shorter ones. We got to see white rhinos, African buffalo, elephants, giraffes, lots of different antelope, warthogs, and some very playful hippos.

We had delicious dinner, breakfast and lunch served out in the open, slept in an isolated ‘hut’ with walls that were only about waist high, and read our books before going to sleep by the light of kerosene lanterns. And in the morning we got to see monkeys and nyala feeding right outside our hut. All in all it was a great experience and one that we will treasure the rest of our lives and all of this is just over an hour from our boarding in Ezulwini.

I thought the meetings on Sunday were especially good. The Mbabane branch is working hard at improving their home and visiting teaching. Much of PEC was spent with the leaders reporting their own teaching. They are determined to become shepherds and not be sheep herders. I think the new computer membership program will help them become even more organized and they will be able to see who is not assigned home teachers. They are particularly interested in making sure new converts have good home teachers.

Since it was the 5th Sunday, they had a joint RS and PH meeting and two members of the branch presidency held discussions. One was on humility and what the members could do to improve it. I think they are better than they think they are but I was glad to see the members join in with lots of comments. The second part was on how to improve branch unity. Once again it was done with great taste and the members participated with excellent comment. It was as good of a 5th Sunday meeting as I have attended at home.

In the literacy class one of the students did the teaching and Mary said she did quite well. I just wish we had about 2 more months for Mary to work with them. I think we will ask Elder Wright to take over the class when we leave. He comes from a family of teachers and has taught the class in other areas. It will take him out of the Gospel Principles class for a few weeks so I guess I should get President Mann’s approval. He will be here on the 8th so we can ask him then.

I should mention that when the elders report about their investigators at DDM the list of progressive investigators and those who have set baptism dates continues to be quite long. We also hear that the work is doing well in the other branches in Swaziland. On Sunday there were 213 in attendance at Mbabane. This is the largest number we have seen since we have been here. This is just a few under the number in attendance at District Conference just 18 months ago. The work is really moving forward in Swaziland.

Saturday we read in the Johannesburg newspaper about a flood in Jakarta. We e-mailed Elder Subandriyo to find out if it affected any of the members of the Church. We believe it may have been part of the area of the Tangerang One branch where we served and got to know a lot of the members. We hope none of them were severely affected. We are waiting to here back from him.